The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence has created a robotic system based on an ape that aims to improve the locomotion and mobility characteristics of robots. It is the latest animal-inspired robot to be designed, following the Cheetah and the BigDog – if the trend continues, we’ll soon have an entire animal kingdom of robots. The Robo-Ape was created as part of a project aimed at developing intelligent structures for application in mobile robot systems, with a special focus on walking machines.
According to the German research center, the goal of the robo-ape is to “increase the efficiency of a complex walking robot by the purposeful use of intelligent structures. In order to achieve this goal, rigid or connecting elements are extended to single subsystems. Concerning mobility and sensor information, such subsystems provide an advantage to the overall system in which they are used. For testing and evaluation of the intelligent structures, a suitable robot demonstrator will be developed.”
The robo-ape uses a multi-locomotion system, which will see the rigid connection between the front and rear body replaced with an actuated spinal column. This active, artificial spine should help to improve the locomotion and mobility characteristics.
Whereas other animal-inspired robots have been created for military or heavy lifting purposes, the robo-ape could be put to use in the final frontier. Apparently, the robot research is funded mainly by the Agency of the German Aerospace Center, so there is a good chance that the robo-ape could be put to work on Mars or the ISS.
However, this writer is more concerned that the designers have clearly never seen either The Terminator nor Rise of the Planet of the Apes…